Tag Archives: SteffiSays

Erice-Craze

The primary reason why I wanted to visit Sicily, was Erice. For those who have visited, they would agree with the steffisays-sicily-erice-castle-ruins-venus-venere-castelloimportance of visiting such a place, and others are curious to know why. Erice situated on top of a mountain, is a medieval fortified town with breathtaking views. You can go for a walk in the cobbled streets, for food, shopping or to indulge in its historical importance.

When we got there, it was very difficult to take it all in – I could not believe that after so many years dreaming about it, I was there in the flesh. We spent a good hour just walking aimlessly enjoying the surroundings. Although it was still April, Erice was buzzing with tourists.

Highlights of Erice:

The views
The below pictures can speak for themselves. Since Erice is so high up, you can capture beautiful photos with the castle and the wondrous beaches all around.

Castello di Venere
Although now in ruins (which date back to the Norman Period), this castle enjoys views all around. It is built on the top-most part of the castle. The reason behind its name which translates to English as the Venus Castle, is due to the fact that at the very spot there was the temple of Venus Eryx, dedicated to the Italian love goddess; mother of Cupid.


Giardino del Balio
As the name states, this is a garden, well sized  and definitely relaxing. It is situated very close by to the castle and towers, which means it’s busy and with gorgeous views. If we had a lot of time on our hands, we would have definitely sat down on the benches and watched the world go by! Unfortunately time was of the essence since we were in Sicily for just five full days, so we had to get on with the next attraction!

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Toretta Pepoli
Built on the slopes of Mount Erice, one can find a small castle which was built in the 1800s. This property was used mainly for meditation and was later on abandoned. In July 2014, it was re-opened again after several years in restoration. One now can visit to admire the architecture and of course the views.

Tasty Sicilian Nibbles
If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, I recommend Pasticceria Maria Grammatico, for the typical Erice sweet: The Genovesi Ericine! We also enjoyed Cannoli Siciliani from there, and I can tell you, it was hard to just choose two from their vast variety!

Photos taken by myself while in Sicily. Kindly seek permission before re-using.. For more photos visit my Instagram page.

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Your wishes, My dreams

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I see you looking at me
With those big brown eyes
From which I can view everything:
Your longings, desires,
Your wishes –

You make my heart
race,
You make me grasp
for air.
You are my reason,
for all that is good.

Your desires, are my goals.
Your longings, are mine too.
Your wishes will come true,
Let’s work on them together;
Two hearts, beating as one.

What we have between us
is what I have been searching for;
for years, I dreamt about this
moment, about having it all.
Your love is the answer.

You are my real-life dream.
I want your love. I long –
for your presence in my life.
I desire your body, your soul;
my heart you stole.

______________________________________________
Steffi 2018.03.28

Best Castles in Germany

I have quite a soft-spot for Germany. My fascination started way back when I was barely a teenager. At that time, I was supporting the German National Football Club, better known as Die Mannschaft. Since then, I discovered another love – Castles. After exhausting my travels in the UK, in 2016 I started traveling to Germany. So far, I have visited between 30 to 40 castles in Germany and based on my experience, I would like to write about my favourite 5 castles (so far!) in Deutschland!

Burg Hohenzollern

Located on top of Mount Hohenzollern, one can find a very distinguished castle.  What I would also call distinguished is the view from the castle onto the surroundings; the mesmerizing view of the Black Forest. Upon entering this castle, one would realise that no expense was spared in building and maintaining this castle.

The first mention of the castle was in 1267, however the mentioned castle was completely destroyed in 1423. Roughly 30 years later, the second Hohenzollern Castle was built – now bigger than ever. The fortification around it is a testimony of several conversions the castle has endured during its lifetime. To this day, the structure is sound and in perfect condition thanks to all the tourists who have visited and will visit in the years to come. Personally, I appreciate it when admission fees are used for the maintenance and renovation of the castle I visited.

 

Burg Eltz

Located along the Mosel Valley, one finds a breathtaking castle by the name of Eltz. Remembering the first time I visited this castle, I was unaware of the long (and pleasant) walk in the forest to reach it. We were puzzled; How is it that we are visiting a castle so out of sight? Trust me, the fifteen minute walk is worthwhile. If you find this as an obstacle, you can always take the shuttle bus however! English tours are available in this castle which is kind of expected considering how popular this castle is.

The castle is still owned by the same family who around 33 generation ago lived there. Eltz is one of the only three castles on the left bank of River Rhine which has never been destroyed. Construction started prior to 1157. Another house within the castle was built in the 1400s, whilst the third part of the castle was considered finished in the 1530s. The upside of this last construction is the fact that each room was heated, unlike the remaining parts of the castle which were partly heated only. The Eltz family is still considered noble to this day.

Schloss Drachenburg

Although Shloss Drachenburg looks like a castle, in fact to me, it looks very similar to Disney Castle, this is considered as a villa. What is unbelievable about it is that it was built in just two years between 1882 and 1884. It belonged to a banker who initially planned to make it a home, but then he didn’t. It was later donated to the State Foundation and is now open for the public. The western facade of the palace was heavily damaged in WW2. The restoration took many years to fulfill as even roofs needed to be replaced.

Aside from the beautiful views of Bonn and the river from the very top of the castle, one must admire the interiors who have been hand-painted all these years ago and are to this day so well maintained. I also remember huge stained glass windows, with details I have never witnessed before; and even after visiting several other castles in other countries, still remain unbeatable…

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle

Pfalzgrafenstein – such a big name, for such a small castle! One can find this little gem in the middle of River Rhine. In fact, to gain access to it, you’d have to ride a short boat trip. Once we arrived on Falkenau island we started by admiring the river from a different angle. We also noticed that from a certain level, this castle looks like a ship. Since the river’s depth varies due to seasonality, the castle had to be built in such a way that it did not flood when the water rises.

Built between 1326 and 1327, its function was as a toll-collecting station. A chain across the river forced ships to stop and pay the fee. If they did not cooperate, they were kept in the castle’s dungeon until a ransom was received. Although the castle was restored to its glory, to this day one does not find neither electricity nor a lavatory. The area is a World Heritage site.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Possibly the more popular castle not only in Germany but worldwide. What many do not know, is the sad story behind it. Back in the 1800s, the King Ludwig II, started to build this most magnificent and luxurious castle, only he died before it was completely finished. In fact, the king only lived in the castle for 172 years (in his private headquarters, whilst it was still being built), and it was opened for public viewing shortly after he died in the year 1886.

It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles, and I must confess to you that I am looking forward very much to living there one day […]; you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world…

— Ludwig II, Letter to Richard Wagner, May 1868[14]

 

Most of the photos above are my own (apart from interior photos of Neuschwanstein, Eltz and Hohenzollern for the simple reason that it was not allowed). Kindly seek permission before re-using.

When to get married in Malta: Seasonality

Maltese brides and grooms tend to play it safe when it comes to their wedding. Even if you are not a bride-zilla, you would most likely still not want a rainy wedding day as this would disrupt all your plans, be it traffic, wedding venue and dirtying your oh-so-white wedding dress! Funnily enough though, we don’t always think of the pros and cons that each season in Malta comes with!

4-seasons-spring-summer-autumn-winter
No snow in Malta, but you catch my drift!

Spring:
The weather starts changing from cold to warm
Happy guest mood since winter is over, and soon it is time for summer
A lot of fruit and veg are back in season, which means more variety when it comes to your menu
The grass is greener! And the flowers start bloom. Needless to say this will enhance your wedding photos, and no doubt, the floral choice for decor is at its best.
Allergy season (this was the only reason why I couldn’t go for a Spring wedding!)
Children are still in school, which might cause certain parents to not attend your wedding

Summer:
Risk of rain is close to none
Longer days, breezy evenings
If you are choosing Malta as your destination wedding, it is more likely that guests will attend as they can combine the wedding with a holiday, and the kids are off school
Summer season is the most popular season of all. If you are very specific on dates and venues, you have to plan very much ahead. Two years minimum, but three years ahead is advised
Noon summer weddings should be illegal. It is crazy to say the least!
Peak wedding season. Guests might choose to attend another wedding, not yours

Autumn:
Milder weather, ideal for noon weddings
The changes of the colour of leaves and trees makes for a magical and romantic background to your wedding photos
Children are back in school, which might cause certain parents to not attend your wedding
Risk of bad weather

Winter:
Classic and traditional Christmas themed weddings are amazing
Availability of venue and other suppliers are abundant
Cheaper deals on venue and vendors due to being off season
Noon weddings are appropriate as days are shorter
Brides have more dress options
✗ Bad weather is likely
✗ Wedding photos outdoors might be a bust due to weather conditions
✗ Festive season might discourage guests as they might rather spend it with close family
✗ Guest may be short on money as it is Christmas season

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Choosing your Wedding Venue

Wedding-Venue-SearchChoosing your wedding venue is probably the biggest decision you have to make after the proposal. Everything else starts falling into place when you know where the reception will be held. In our case, we chose the venue, then we looked for a church which is not on the other side of the island. Then we proceeded with choosing our caterers, which was the next headache…

Before deciding on wedding venue, read through the points below, to form your basic wedding requirements:

  • Budget: Make sure the wedding venues you are looking at are within your budget.  Although daydreaming is nice, if you have a restricted budget, it is important to not waste time on venues that you can never afford. Harsh, but it will be a let down eventually. When looking at venues, make sure you ask the right questions, for example, are there any hidden fees involved? What is the overtime hourly rate? And how does it work? What are the payment arrangements?
  • Guest-list: Having an idea on the number of guests that you would like to invite would help ensure that all of them will fit comfortably in the venue. Further, it will also help you to determine if the venue is too big for your wedding party. You really wouldn’t want the wedding reception to look empty.
  • Availability: This is a crucial point when it comes to choosing the wedding venue. The reason I have put this as a third point is as I am a strong believer on the fact that one should know the budget and number of guests before starting to look at venues.
  • Weather-friendly: Make sure that the wedding venue is appropriate for your big day. If you are getting married in the dead of winter or in the hottest month of the year, make sure that there is an indoor space for all your guests. You might get lucky, and you will not need this space but best to be safe than sorry. If it is too hot, air-conditioning is a must, if it is cold or rainy, then a warm space (or at least an indoor space) is ideal. Have a back-up plan at hand for the worst case scenario.
  • Catering: This will be tackled separately, however one must keep in mind that certain venues have catering exclusivity, meaning that you cannot choose your own catering. In this case, make sure that the venue package is affordable, and that the venue’s caterer is to your liking. Food and beverage is essential in a wedding, and one simply cannot take it for granted.
  • Parking: Appropriate amount of parking the vicinity of the wedding venue is considered an asset now a days. Most of the guests will be attending with their own means of transport, and wouldn’t want to walk for half an hour to the wedding reception and back to the car. If parking is an issue, then make sure to reserve a parking lot for your big-day and instruct your guests to park there.
  • Ambience:  Think about the theme and the decor you are after. Does this match the style of the venue? If you want to dress up the venue completely to make it unique, yours, make sure you have budgeted the decor required. Ensure also the venue is ideal for your guest list. For example, if you are inviting elderly, make sure there are chairs available. As much as you wouldn’t want all the guests to sit down, you need cater for everyone’s needs.

Full-Blown Wedding Preparations

Last November, my partner and I decided on taking the next step in our relationship. Both being on the same page with regards to what we want in life, we started discussing on the biggest level of commitment two adults can show towards each other: marriage.

I would not get into the topic of a relationship vs marriage, as this is a topic for another blog post.

When we went to the wedding fair, which was coincidentally the next weekend after our “big talk”, we wwedding dayere so unprepared! We had no idea on a date, venue, or setup. We walked aimlessly in the fair, stocking up on leaflets until we saw the stall of what would be our venue of choice. We knew right there and then, this was it. We did not have to discuss it, we did not have to argue. It felt right, the one.  Upon deciding, we made a list of its availability in June and July 2019. It was then that we were told that couples have already started booking for 2020. That’s 3 years before the wedding. Wow!

The next day, early Saturday morning we made our way to our ideal chapel, which is in close vicinity to the venue. Luckily, the chapel was available on the same day of our preferred wedding day, the 19th of July 2019. Feeling like this was meant to be, we quickly made our chapel reservation and phoned the venue to confirm.

We did keep our wedding date a secret for a whole month, before we got our parents together to tell them the news! It was one of the hardest things we had to do… Keeping the most exciting and most important day of our lives to ourselves. But it was all worth it when we saw our parents cheering and hugging us. They kind of knew something was up, but they never thought this was the news we wanted to share.

wedding

 

Travel To These Countries When You’re On A Budget

If you’re travelling on a budget, chances are you’ve had some of the best holiday trips of a lifetime. You’ve mingled with locals, taken part in local activities, and bunked down in countless hostels. Yet, a lot of people don’t believe the amount of enrichment a person can get from a budget!

There’s a lot of budget friendly destinations out there, and even when you only have a few dollars in your pocket to pay for the street food, the accommodation and experiences can still be fantastic! Make sure to include these places on your bucket list whilst you’re missing out on rolling in the millions; there’s a lot you can do for free when you know where to look.

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Take a Trip to South Africa

South Africa is one of the most culturally enriched and beautiful places to see in your lifetime, and there’s a lot to do considering the size of the continent itself. One of the biggest and most famous activities to undertake is the Safari, as this is a gateway to a whole world of nature with the biggest and best-est animals all on show. Thankfully, this is totally within your reach when you’re on a budget!

You can even travel via the air here quite cheaply when you’re got the right resources in your pocket. When you have the best airline credit card promotion on your side, the travel itself is going to become a lot cheaper to manage. Getting rewards out of the vast mileage it takes to get here is going to be lovely to live on when you get home again!

Head to Prague

This is one of the most popular tourist destinations when it comes to capital cities, and that may immediately turn you away from it, but it’s incredibly cheap to visit when you’re on a budget. There are so many amazing sights to see for free, such as the Vltava River. Even just taking a bridge tour can take an entire day here!

There’s a lot of history on offer here, with Europe having one of the most extensively recorded histories in the world for you to explore. Similarly, if you like the pub scene, there’s a lot of world famous local brews to try out here; always good for a night out with you and a couple of friends!

Try Out Bulgaria

This country definitely deserves a spot on your travel wishlist! It’s a little known tourist spot, and that title is completely unjust considering the amount of beaches alone. You can visit any stretch of sands and stone; discover so much history and nature in one.

There’s an entire and extensive arts district on offer for your eyes, and your wallet, if you pay Bulgaria a visit. Check into some of the biggest cultural hotspots in Europe just by taking a trip to this capital city, which is also pretty cheap.

Remember: a budget never has to mean you can’t explore the planet you were born on!

 

How to Organise the Perfect Indoor BBQ In Winter

There is one thing we all miss in the winter: the ability to invite people around for an afternoon of barbecue. If you feel like your social life has suffered as the weather got colder, you might want to get creative and recreate the feeling of summer in your home, and hold an indoor party that cheers you up and makes your weekends more exciting. Below you will find a few tips on how to get started.

House Party

Get a Quality Grill

There are plenty of great quality health fryers and grills you can use, and the results will be the same as on the flames. You might want to get an indoor electric or gas grill set up in your kitchen, or keep it outside, and have the party in the conservatory, if you have one. If you are not sure which type of meat will be the best for your indoor grilling, you can always ask your local butcher or farm shop for advice.

Make Loads of Punch and Mulled Wine

To warm up the atmosphere and your visitors, you might want to get the punch and mulled wine on the hob, instead of cold beer and wine. You can create your hot cocktails yourself, and lay them out for your guests to try and rate. Get your recipes and creativity going, and impress your friends this winter.

Create a Menu and Start Cooking

House BBQ

Get some finger food on the menu, as well as the grilled meat. Offer bacon sandwiches, savoury pies prepared the previous day, and order some pastry from your local shop. Don’t forget about the fresh salad and entree, and get a bowl of soup out, so your guests can help themselves whenever they want to. You can make your own coleslaw, bake your rolls fresh, to go with the meat and the soup.

Get the Caterers In

Depending on the size of your party, you might want to get some help. Caterers can help you out with equipment that keeps the food warm and fresh, as well as laying out the dishes. Check out Singapore caterer ezBBQ to find out what services are available, and how you can make the most out of your indoor barbecue. Alternatively, you can order a hot pudding from a local catering company, and torch your own creme-brulees.

Add Lighting, Decoration, and Music

To get the conversation flowing, and cheer up your friends arriving, you can decorate your home with winter paintings and snowflakes. You might want to get a winter wax melt on the go, and install a mood light. Create a playlist that you can stream from your phone and control the volume according to what your guests are doing.

Just because it is cold and wet outside, your social life should go on. Organise a creative indoor BBQ party, and cheer yourself and your friends up. Make sure that you have adequate extractor fans installed in the house, though, otherwise, your house will smell of barbecue for a long time.